Working Remotely? Try These 26 Tools for Better Communication, Collaboration & Organization
One of the best parts about being in marketing is that most of us can work anywhere and everywhere — as long as we have an internet connection, it’s relatively easy for us to get most our day-to-day work done. To publish that blog post, send that email, or set up that email nurturing workflow, we simply need to connect to Wi-Fi and get to work.
But an internet connection doesn’t solve everything we need to accomplish during the day. Often, we need to communicate with team members, project managers, and freelancers — and when you’re remote, that communication can get a little … messy.
To help make it easier for their employees to have flexible work arrangements, many companies are discovering and implementing new tools and resources. To help you figure out which tools might be handy for your team’s work arrangement, we compiled some of the best ones my friends on the Inbound.org discussion boards suggested for remote working. Check ’em out below.
When You Need to Stay Organized
Asana lets you create and delegate tasks, organize tasks into shared projects, chat within each task so conversations stay organized, and add attachments from Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. It also has calendar features, dashboards for projects, and your very own to-do list.
Project management for web developers seems to be Assembla’s niche, though it could handle project management for just about any type of freelancing. It tracks tickets, time, and produces reports, simplifies product releases and bug fixing, and says it’s “easier to set up than Jira.”
Use this project management software to help you arrange your calendars, set meeting schedules, track assignments, and store documents.
I wouldn’t call this a project manager, exactly, although it could be. It’s more of a team manager, keeping documents, notes, best practices, product requirements, and plans all in one easily searchable place. Pro Tip from @Jason_Ephraim: You can also use the Gliffy integration to do quick wireframes.
For task management, shared calendars, file sharing, annotating images, and real-time group chat, Glip is a strong tool. It also helps that all those chats are fully searchable.
Web developers will love this product, designed to build software with remote teams with code review and management for open source and private projects.
Another project management tool primarily for developers that allows you to assign and track work. It also has a handy mobile interface for project management on the go. Not clear as to whether it is, in fact, harder to setup than Assembla. (If you know, tell me in the comments!)
Part project manager, part Facebook for companies, you can use Podio to keep track of what you need to do, and chat while doing it.
This lean project and task management software allows you to assign tasks by person or by category, filter to see who’s working on what, and communicate (or change plans) with your team in real time. This software was built to make planning, prioritizing, delegating and seeing what you’ve already done fast and simple.
Taskworld’s sweet spot is managing projects and keeping track of tasks and subtasks. Its evaluation feature lets you measure and give feedback on job performance, setting it apart from other similar project management programs.
A very simple tool for making notes on what needs done and who should do it. It’s like a team post-it-note board on steroids.
Marketed more as a personal to-do list for your phone, Wunderlist is also used by some of us to keep track of client work.
When You Need to Talk Face-to-Face
When I need a reliable online meeting program, this is my “go-to.” (See what I did there?) It hasn’t embarrassed me in front of a client once. Screen sharing is easy and call quality is usually really good.
14) Google Hangouts
A lot of us use it because Google is ubiquitous, and usually the most convenient option — especially if you’re using Google Calendar to manage your schedule.
This tool is great for fast and easy screen share meetings.
Yeah, we all use it. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s still a great option for chatting with folks all over the world.
17) Uber Conference
With Uber Conference, no more wondering who joined the call, who said what, or what the heck your meeting PIN number is. It also allows screen sharing and has a mobile app.
When You Want to Collaborate (or Just Chat)
This super-fast-growing startup‘s product is great for real-time communication for one-on-one conversations or with everyone on your team. You can also organize chats by subject, and integrate activity from Github, Trello, Pingdom, etc. I like the thought expressed here that Slack is as close to a virtual office as you can get. (Pro Tip from @lvanmullem: You can create one channel for every client, and invite only the people on that project to be on that channel.)
Like Slack-lite, you can use this for always-on team chats and everyday water cooler talk.
This is similar to Slack, and also integrates with Jira, GitHub, Basecamp, Asana, Assembla, Trello and a lot of other apps.
When You Want to Organize Your Stuff
21) Google Drive
I love Google Drive, but it does tend to update rather frequently, which means that just when you’ve figured it out and have all your things organized, it changes. That said, it’s free, stores and organizes all of your stuff, and you can work on the same document with multiple people at the same time.
Sharing large files doesn’t work so well over email, which is where Dropbox comes in. It’s also a great tool for organizing freelancer work. Just have the freelancer upload their documents into monthly folders and message you when their work is in.
When You Have to Manage a Team
23) GitHub Wiki
Savvy inbound marketing companies use GitHub Wiki for employee onboarding by organizing helpful resources for new employees. Pro Tip from @zzawaideh: “We have the last person to join update the guides as they go through them.”
24) Time Doctor
Need to keep a close eye on how your team is spending their time, for client billing or productivity purposes? Time Doctor can help you do just that.
For keeping track of time and expenses, this is a simple few-frills tool.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t remember what I did yesterday. iDoneThis solves that problem for individuals and teams by sending a “digest” of what everyone did.
We all work a little differently and each of us has our own list of challenges. But what we have in common as successful players in the industry is this: We’re all problem solvers. And when the problems have to do with getting organized, we’ve got our favorite tools to help solve them.
What’s in your toolbox? Share your favorite in the original Inbound.org thread.